NEWS

Vancouver family honours grandfather's military service

11/11/2012 02:18 EST | Updated 01/11/2013 05:12 EST
As thousands of Canadians across the country pay tribute to war veterans, one Vancouver family wants to make sure its military history is not forgotten.

"My grandfather Walter was in the Canadian Grenadier Guards in the First World War and he fought and was wounded several times in the famous battle of Passchendaele,” Dan Veniez told CBC News.

Veniez says his grandfather spoke openly about his war experiences.

"Mortar fire came and it — as grandpa described it, and I remember him being very tearful when he did -- he lost his seven friends who were in the trench with him,” Veniez said.

“He was the only one that made it out alive. He didn't think he would be alive."

Walter Veniez lost a piece of his right leg — but that didn’t stop him from trying to enlist when the Second World War broke out. He wasn't accepted but volunteered for home guard duty.

His son, Dan’s father, enlisted but never saw active service as the war ended the day before he was to ship out from Halifax.

Veniez says his grandfather battled alcoholism and depression before he died — legacies of what he endured in the war.

"In those days, mental health issues were not as understood and appreciated as they are today."

But Veniez says his grandfather’s stories are motivations for him and his teenage children to honour veterans of the past and present.

"Without me suggesting it, they wear their poppies,” Veniez said.

“They know what it means and they're not only proud of their heritage, but they're very proud of what it means to them and means to the country and means to what they even themselves say they take for granted today."

MORE:cbcNews